September

Moonlight Harvestby FireWind

*Notes*

This lexical laziness is lamentable since it confuses a deity-name for the proper name of the holiday. The same disconcerting trend can be seen in the recent practice of referring to the autumnal equinox as 'Mabon', which is more properly the name of a Welsh god-form.

Graphic Source: Hellas Multi Media

History of Mabon I

Titled: The High Holy Days

Mabon ~ The Fall Equinox

by SpringIce, Inc

Mabon (May-bawn) is also known as the Feast of Avalon and the festival of the Wine Harvest. To the Celts, Avalon is the mysterious place for the land of the dead. and literally means the "land of apples". Thus this is a holiday for celebrating the bounty of the harvest and the desire for the living to be reunited with their deceased loved ones.

But the holiday is also named for the Welsh God Mabon. Mabon means the "great son". He was the son of Modred, kidnapped at the age of 3 and later rescued by King Arthur. His life represents the innocence of youth, the strength of survival and the growing wisdom of the elderly. Perhaps it is this view of the cycle of life that brings Mabon to his most popular role, the King of the Otherworld and the God of Darkness.

His myths overlap with other Gods such as the Welsh God Gwyn Ap Nuad, which means "white son of darkness". He is seen as the God of war and death, the patron God of fallen warriors. Once again this is a representation or connection to the Land of Avalon.

www.paganspath.com/magik/mabon.html 5/7/01 SpringIce, Inc 1996-1999

Lady Dairhean

History of Mabon II

Balance and Harvest: The Autumnal Equinox

by Tammy Todd

The autumnal equinox (Sept. 22, 2000) is the day when night and day are nearly equal. It marks the movement from the season of summer to the cooler temperatures and shorter days of fall, and eventually winter. It marks the time of fruition and harvest in many cultures, when the harvest of fruits, grains, and vegetables is all important for the coming winter.

The equinox is also a time of celebration for many faiths, especially those known as Pagan and Neopagan. Known as Mabon, Alban Elfed, Harvest Home, and Winter Finding, this is the second of the three harvest festivals of the Pagan year (the first, Lammas, is on Aug. 1st, and the last, Samhain, is Oct. 31st.). Mabon marks the completion of the grain harvest begun during Lammas. It is also a time to harvest many fruits, nuts, vegetables, and herbs for the coming winter. As such it is often known as the Pagan Thanksgiving.

But, in most Pagan lore, the equinox is also a day of sacrifice. This is the day of the year when the god of light is defeated by his twin and alter ego, the god of darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. This sacrifice is illustrated in the lyric:

There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die...

The sacrifice of John Barleycorn, however, is a symbolic one: it is the spirit of the vegetation that is 'sacrificed' to harvest the food that will sustain the people through the winter months and into the next growing season.

The Sabbat is called Mabon by many Wiccans, named for the God who symbolized the male fertilizing principle in the Welsh myths. He is equated by many with the Greek deity Persepone, who was a major part of the equinox in Greek mythology. Fall began when she returned to her husband Hades in the Underworld. Other deities associated with Mabon include Dionysus and Bacchus (gods of Wine), Demeter (goddess of grain) Persephone (Queen of the Underworld and daughter of Demeter), and Thor (Lord of Thunder in Norse mythology). Some other Autumn Equinox Goddesses include Modron, Morgan, Snake Woman, Epona, Pamona, and the Muses. Some appropriate Gods besides those already mentioned are Herne, Thoth, Hermes, and Hotei.

The autumnal equinox marks a time to relax and survey the harvest we have reaped over the past year (either literally or figuratively), as well as the sacrifices we have made to reach this point in our lives. It is a time for giving thanks to the gods for the fruits of our labor and our ability to provide for our family over the coming year. It is also a time to reflect on the balance of the universe: the duality of the winter and summer.

www.altreligion.about.com/library/weekly/aa091099.html 5/8/01

Graphic Source: Hellas Multi Media

History of Mabon III

Titled: Mabon History

by Mike Nichols

This file contains 9 seasonal articles by Mike Nichols. They may be freely distributed provided that the following conditions are met: (1) No fee is charged for their use and distribution and no commercial use is made of them; (2) These files are not changed or edited in any way without the author's permission; (3) This notice is not removed. An article may be distributed as a separate file, provided that this notice is repeated at the beginning of each such file.

The Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft by Mike Nichols copyright by MicroMuse Press

H A R V E S T H O M E by Mike Nichols

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
There were three men came out of the West,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn must die...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Despite the bad publicity generated by Thomas Tryon's novel, Harvest Home is the pleasantest of holidays. Admittedly, it does involve the concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic only. The sacrifice is that of the spirit of vegetation, John Barleycorn. Occurring 1/4 of the year after Midsummer, Harvest Home represents mid-autumn, autumn's height. It is also the Autumnal Equinox, one of the quarter days of the year, a Lesser Sabbat and a Low Holiday in modern Witchcraft.

Technically, an equinox is an astronomical point and, due to the fact that the earth wobbles on its axis slightly (rather like a top that's slowing down), the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. The autumnal equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator on it's apparent journey southward, and we experience a day and a night that are of equal duration. Up until Harvest Home, the hours of daylight have been greater than the hours from dusk to dawn. But from now on, the reverse holds true. Astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the sign of Libra, the Balance (an appropriate symbol of a balanced day and night). This year (1988) it will occur at 2:29 pm CDT on September 22nd.

However, since most European peasants were not accomplished at calculating the exact date of the equinox, they celebrated the event on a fixed calendar date, September 25th, a holiday the medieval Church Christianized under the name of 'Michaelmas', the feast of the Archangel Michael. (One wonders if, at some point, the R.C. Church contemplated assigning the four quarter days of the year to the four Archangels, just as they assigned the four cross-quarter days to the four gospel -writers. Further evidence for this may be seen in the fact that there was a brief flirtation with calling the Vernal Equinox 'Gabrielmas', ostensibly to commemorate the angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary on Lady Day.) Again, it must be remembered that the Celts reckoned their days from sundown to sundown, so the September 25th festivities actually begin on the previous sundown (our September 24th).

Although our Pagan ancestors probably celebrated Harvest Home on September 25th, modern Witches and Pagans, with their desk-top computers for making finer calculations, seem to prefer the actual equinox point, beginning the celebration on its eve (this year, sunset on September 21st).

Mythically, this is the day of the year when the god of light is defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the god of darkness. It is the time of the year when night conquers day. And as I have recently shown in my seasonal reconstruction of the Welsh myth of Blodeuwedd, the Autumnal Equinox is the only day of the whole year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat him. Llew now stands on the balance (Libra/autumnal equinox), with one foot on the cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his other foot on the goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into an Eagle (Scorpio).

Two things are now likely to occur mythically, in rapid succession. Having defeated Llew, Goronwy (darkness) now takes over Llew's functions, both as lover to Blodeuwedd, the Goddess, and as King of our own world. Although Goronwy, the Horned King, now sits on Llew's throne and begins his rule immediately, his formal coronation will not be for another six weeks, occurring at Samhain (Halloween) or the beginning of Winter, when he becomes the Winter Lord, the Dark King, Lord of Misrule. Goronwy's other function has more immediate results, however. He mates with the virgin goddess, and Blodeuwedd conceives, and will give birth -- nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) -- to Goronwy's son, who is really another incarnation of himself, the Dark Child.

Llew's sacrificial death at Harvest Home also identifies him with John Barleycorn, spirit of the fields. Thus, Llew represents not only the sun's power, but also the sun's life trapped and crystallized in the corn. Often this corn spirit was believed to reside most especially in the last sheaf or shock harvested, which was dressed in fine clothes, or woven into a wicker-like man-shaped form. This effigy was then cut and carried from the field, and usually burned, amidst much rejoicing. So one may see Blodeuwedd and Goronwy in a new guise, not as conspirators who murder their king, but as kindly farmers who harvest the crop which they had planted and so lovingly cared for. And yet, anyone who knows the old ballad of John Barleycorn knows that we have not heard the last of him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They let him stand till midsummer's day,
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard
And so become a man...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Incidentally, this annual mock sacrifice of a large wicker-work figure (representing the vegetation spirit) may have been the origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices. This charge was first made by Julius Caesar (who may not have had the most unbiased of motives), and has been re-stated many times since. However, as has often been pointed out, the only historians besides Caesar who make this accusation are those who have read Caesar. And in fact, upon reading Caesar's 'Gallic Wars' closely, one discovers that Caesar never claims to have actually witnessed such a sacrifice. Nor does he claim to have talked to anyone else who did. In fact, there is not one single eyewitness account of a human sacrifice performed by Druids in all of history!

Nor is there any archeological evidence to support the charge. If, for example, human sacrifices had been performed at the same ritual sites year after year, there would be physical traces. Yet there is not a scrap. Nor is there any native tradition or history which lends support. In fact, insular tradition seems to point in the opposite direction. The Druid's reverence for life was so strict that they refused to lift a sword to defend themselves when massacred by Roman soldiers on the Isle of Mona. Irish brehon laws forbade a Druid to touch a weapon, and any soul rash enough to unsheathe a sword in the presence of a Druid would be executed for such an outrage!

Jesse Weston, in her brilliant study of the Four Hallows of British myth, 'From Ritual to Romance', points out that British folk tradition is, however, full of MOCK sacrifices. In the case of the wicker-man, such figures were referred to in very personified terms, dressed in clothes, addressed by name, etc. In such a religious ritual drama, everybody played along.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

They've hired men with scythes so sharp,
To cut him off at the knee,
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist
Serving him most barbarously...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

In the medieval miracle-play tradition of the 'Rise Up, Jock' variety (performed by troupes of mummers at all the village fairs), a young harlequin-like king always underwent a mock sacrificial death. But invariably, the traditional cast of characters included a mysterious 'Doctor' who had learned many secrets while 'travelling in foreign lands'. The Doctor reaches into his bag of tricks, plies some magical cure, and presto! the young king rises up hale and whole again, to the cheers of the crowd. As Weston so sensibly points out, if the young king were ACTUALLY killed, he couldn't very well rise up again, which is the whole point of the ritual drama! It is an enactment of the death and resurrection of the vegetation spirit. And what better time to perform it than at the end of the harvest season?

In the rhythm of the year, Harvest Home marks a time of rest after hard work. The crops are gathered in, and winter is still a month and a half away! Although the nights are getting cooler, the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect. As we pursue our gentle hobbies of making corn dollies (those tiny vegetation spirits) and wheat weaving, our attention is suddenly arrested by the sound of baying from the skies (the 'Hounds of Annwn' passing?), as lines of geese cut silhouettes across a harvest moon. And we move closer to the hearth, the longer evening hours giving us time to catch up on our reading, munching on popcorn balls and caramel apples and sipping home-brewed mead or ale. What a wonderful time Harvest Home is! And how lucky we are to live in a part of the country where the season's changes are so dramatic and majestic!

And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl--
And he's brandy in the glass,
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the strongest man at last.

www.members.dencity.com/Talmira/Mabon_history.html 5/7/01 Mike Nichols

Labor Day

Image Source: Net glimpse Holidays

The American labor movement is rich in revolutionary traditions upon which the Communist Party and the Trade Union Unity League can draw in their work of organizing the American working class for revolutionary action. The great labor struggles which dot the history of the United States, bear testimony to the militancy of the American workers. Not only have the workers been ready to initiate struggles or accept provocations of the bosses, but when out on strike, they have stayed out long and fought bitterly against the combined forces of bosses and the minions of the State.

A labor movement which can look back to the general strike movements of 1877 and 1886, to Homestead (1892), to the A. R. U. Strike (1894), to Lawrence (1912), to the Steel Strike (1919), to Seattle (1919), to the many strikes in the coal, railroad, clothing and other industries, to the great struggles in Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the Mesaba Range and, more recently, to Gastonia and Harlan, can also look forward to still greater struggles in the future. With the prevailing objective conditions--constantly deepening economic crisis, growing permanent unemployment, intensified exploitation through speed up methods, acceleration of imperialist rivalries leading to another world war, the American Labor movement, freed of its misleaders, will give an account of itself. The massacre by Ford police of four Detroit auto workers at an unemployed demonstration before his plant, the murder of Negro jobless in Chicago and Cleveland are evidences of the sharpening class struggle and the militancy of the workers.1

Labor Day is a United States federal holiday that takes place on the first Monday of September. The origins of the American Labor Day can be traced back to the Knights of Labor in the United States and a parade organized by them on September 5, 1882 in New York City. They were inspired by an annual labor parade held in Toronto, Canada. In 1884 another parade was held, and the Knights passed resolutions to make this an annual event. Other labor organizations (and there were many), but notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association, many of whom were socialists or anarchists, favoured a May 1 holiday. With the event of Chicago's Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, president Grover Cleveland believed that a May 1 holiday could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus, fearing that it might strengthen the socialist movement, he quickly moved in 1887 to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day.

Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States since the 1880s. The September date has remained unchanged, even though the government was encouraged to adopt May 1 as Labor Day, the date celebrated by the majority of the world. Moving the holiday, in addition to breaking with tradition, could have been viewed as aligning the U.S. labor movements with internationalist sympathies. Labor Day is generally regarded simply as a day of rest, and political demonstrations are rare. Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water activities, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer. Some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school.

An old, and now largely ignored, custom prohibits the wearing of white after Labor Day. The explanations for this tradition range from the idea that white clothes are worse protection against cold weather in the winter than colored clothes to the intention of the rule as a status symbol for new members of the middle class in the late 19th century and early 20th century. One of the largest modern traditions of Labor Day in the United States is the annual telethon of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosted by Jerry Lewis to fund research and patient support programs for the various diseases grouped as muscular dystrophy. The telethon raises tens of millions of dollars USD each year. In 2005, despite the recent catastrophe caused by Hurricane Katrina, nearly $55 million was raised over 21 hours.

The holiday is now often associated with the commemoration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement. The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by Labor's 1872 success in Canada, demanded an eight-hour workday in the United States, to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the U.S. Haymarket Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday. More recently, it is associated with the Kent State Massacre. May Day is designated International Workers' Day. It is indeed an international holiday in many countries, but not English-speaking countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. In most of the world, except in the US, Labor Day is celebrated on the 1st of May in remembrance of the 1886 Haymarket Riot. The adoption of May Day by socialists (and later also the communists) as their primary holiday cements official resistance to this holiday in the US. The US government has also attempted to create other holidays for the day of 1 May, in order to further discourage the celebration of May Day. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also celebrate Labour Day on different dates; that has to do with how the holiday originated in those countries.

In 1884 the group held a parade on the first Monday of September. And then it passed a resolution to hold all future parades on that day designating it as Labor Day. The Knights of Labor soon came to be regarded as the most dominant of all labor unions in the US. However, things changed. The year 1886 was a troubled one in labor relations. There were nearly 1,600 strikes, involving about 600,000 workers, with the eight-hour day being the most prominent item in the demands of labor. About half of these strikes were called in on May Day. Now, some of those strikes were successful. But the failure of others and internal conflicts between skilled and unskilled members led to a decline in the Knights' popularity and influence. The most serious blow to the unions came from a tragic occurrence. And this was what made the May 1 as an important day in the history of Labor Movement in America. Though it did not take place on May Day itself, it came as a consequence whose origin was laid on that day.

The idea gained ground in other parts of the world with the International Socialist congress of 1889 in Paris. It was the congress that designating it as an international labor day. While in the United States and Canada, Labor Day still continues to be observed on the first Monday in September, rest of the world observes it on May 1 or other dates. At present, the May Day connection, best known outside the Maypoles, is the celebration of the Russian Communists. It was in the 1920s, they inaugurated the May Day parades. It was a major holiday in the Soviet Union and other Communist countries, and also in many other parts of the world. Even in today's Russia it is an annual holiday devoted to the recognition of working people's contribution to society. A unique display of the most modern weapons and seemingly endless troops of soldiers is held in Moscow, the capital of Russia on this day. Thus May Day, once mainly a spring festival, has become a festival of the laboring class in Socialist countries.

Besides the prominence government recognition gave to Labor Day, other factors led to the diminished importance of May Day in the US. American newspapers stereotyped the May Day revelers as being "wild-eyed agitators;" in contrast, those who participated in Labor Day marches were "sober, clean, and quiet." At the turn of the century, the difference between the two holidays was exaggerated; the press emphasized the large percentage of immigrants present in May Day celebrations, while Labor Day was "a demonstration of the honest American workingman." At a time when the foreign born were increasingly viewed with suspicion, this portrayal helped push more conservative labor groups in the US (such as the AFL) to abandon May Day in favor of Labor Day. But American radicals wouldn't give up. Eugene V. Debs, Socialist Party candidate for US President, stated in 1907: "This is the first and only International Labor Day. It belongs to the working class and is dedicated to the revolution." The Industrial Workers of the World, a radical labor union, also rallied around May Day. May Day continued to grow, calling for an end to "imperialist slaughter," throughout WWI and the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia.

In the US, Labor Day was started in September of 1882, and quickly became an official holiday at the same time May Day spread throughout the world. Labor Day is a time to celebrate the contributions American workers had given their country, unlike May Day events, which focused on the international class struggle. It remains a patriotic holiday, and compared to the first May Day demonstrations, Labor Day is recognized by relatively staid parades and speeches.2

Graphics Source: Hellas Multi Media

 

Sources:

 

1) Marxists.org  Visited 03/25/08

2) Net glimpse Holidays  Visited 03/25/08

 

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